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Issue 12, Spring 2021


Dear Art and Museum Studies Students, Faculty, and Alumni,

This has been an unprecedented period of loss and change and our hearts are with all of you who have lost loved ones, experienced illness, or faced layoffs this past year. As museum professionals, you have been instrumental in keeping museums afloat and helping them adapt to the enormous transformations wrought by the pandemic. You have also been key players in enacting the institutional changes called for by movements such as Empathetic Museum, MASS Action, and @changethemuseum. I want to take a moment to acknowledge all you have achieved this year.

For the classes of ’20 and ’21, the pandemic has meant online classes, museum closures, and a static job market. I want to recognize their fortitude and resilience in the face of these overwhelming challenges. When we abruptly shifted to online classes last March, the class of ’20 found themselves thrown into online courses they had not planned to take. Their internship offers were postponed or rescinded, and their job searches were halted. They responded with understandable shock, but they followed that shock with a combination of fierce realism and hard work. They ferreted out job opportunities, paid internships, online programs, seminars, conferences, and other learning opportunities. Several have landed jobs in this difficult year and all of them have kept in touch with the program and with each other, offering one another crucial support and hope. 

The class of ’21 entered the program prepared for one semester of online education and have faced  more online courses in the spring, a postponed university commencement, and online internships. They have, however, risen to the challenge of this year at every opportunity. Six students held internships this spring (at Foundation for Art and Preservation in Embassies, Freer and Sackler Galleries, Heurich House Museum, L’Enfant Gallery, Mexican Cultural Institute, the Phillips Collection, and Smithsonian Learning Lab), and all have been able to find summer internships. Throughout this year, they have remained upbeat, positive, and fully engaged, taking every opportunity to meet safely with one another and to visit museums when they were open. Our Museums and Social Justice course was able to meet in person in the classroom, at Dumbarton House, and, for one final class outdoors. Collections Management also held in-person labs at Dumbarton House. Our Internship course plans to meet in person in the classroom this summer, and we are arranging an alumni happy hour at the Heurich House Museum's "1921 Garden Bar" for July 17th — more information forthcoming! 

A meeting of Museums and Social Justice. From right to left: Alessia Amato (MA ’21), Peri Beckerman, Jemima Denham, and Sofia Olencheck (MA '21). 

I want to thank the classes of ’20 and ’21 for their positive energy throughout the pandemic. The program could not have survived without them. I also want to extend my heartfelt thanks to all the alumni who have reached out to support the current classes and incoming students. You have emailed me with job opportunities, answered my calls to mentor and encourage the recent cohorts, and participated in our Zoom Happy Hour and Information Sessions. Your support has meant the world to me and to the current students, and I want to take this moment to express my gratitude. On everyone’s behalf, I also want to thank our dedicated Museum Studies faculty, who made the shift to online teaching with grace and who have supported out students with mentoring, recommendation letters, and job postings throughout this difficult year: Al Miner, Carma Fauntleroy, Jerry Foust, Adrienne Gayoso, Harriet McNamee, and Darren Milligan.

I look forward to welcoming the class of 2022 this fall to our pre-pandemic curriculum. Georgetown will return to in-person instruction, as will Sotheby’s Institute of Art in New York and London. We will also bring back fall internships, virtually or in-person. 

I think I can speak for all of us when I say that we hope next year will be a chance to begin anew, and to build a better, more equitable museum world.

Best,

Lisa Strong

Director, Art and Museum Studies MA Program

Lisa and Inji Kim, MA ’20 see each other for the first time in a year in New York at the New Museum.

Faculty News

Professor Al Acres will conclude his two terms as Chair of the Department of Art and Art History in June, 2021. He found it a privilege to work with so many dedicated faculty, staff, students, and other friends of the department during these six years. The students in his recent courses (a seminar on Albrecht Dürer and a survey of Northern Renaissance Art) were inspiring company during this most challenging of years. He will be on sabbatical in 2021-22, completing a book and an article on Jan van Eyck, along with research for a new book project that explores marginal  dimensions of late medieval painting. In December he joined the Reverend Dr. James Hawkey, Canon Theologian of Westminster Abbey, London, for a presentation within a seminar series for Advent entitled “A Great and Mighty Wonder.”

Professor Ian Bourland taught new seminars focusing on critical theory and questions of race, racism and aesthetics, and continued ongoing work as a critic for Artforum and Fieze. He also completed a series of entries for a comprehensive volume for Phaidon Press, African Artists, to be published in late 2021. A new book project on Africa and resource extraction is underway, and was awarded support through an Ailsa Mellon Bruce Visiting Senior Fellowship at the Center for Advanced Study in the Visual Arts at the National Gallery of Art this Summer.

Aubin Pictures recently invited Professor Andrea Gallelli Huezo to design a course to accompany their film Aggie, based on the social justice philanthropy of Agnes Gund. The seminar she created, Art: Justice & Activism, is to be taught in universities across the U.S. Following her Spring 2021 seminar on Race & Color in Latin American Art, Prof. Gallelli Huezo is developing a new course titled Spectacle in Latin America. Both seminars draw upon her current research for a book exploring the intersection of spectacle and race in Latin America.

HARD ART DC 1979, the book Professor Jayme McLellan created with Lucian Perkins, Lely Constantinople, and Alec MacKaye, has sold out its first pressing! HARD ART toured internationally as an exhibition from 2011-2015. Jayme and her team are working on a new exhibition about Valley Green apartments, where Bad Brains had their fifth ever concert. HR, the singer for Bad Brains, modeled  this Rock Against Racism concert on concerts of the same name organized by The Clash in London. Perkins captured the only known images of the legendary 1979 concert held in a marginalized neighborhood of DC that no longer exists. Many of the men raised at Valley Green ended up in prison. The new exhibition will focus on systemic racism and the U.S. prison industrial complex.

Professor Stephanie Rufino recently developed an entirely new course surveying architecture from the Ancient through the Baroque eras with examples from across the globe. Students analyzed a key mosque in Mali as well as structures in Mexico and Peru. The importance of community involvement in a building’s often sensitive preservation process and a structure’s shifting function amidst political change were among the issues students analyzed over the course of the spring semester. Topical events such as the 2021 Pritzker Prize, awarded to French architects Lacaton and Vassal for their commitment to improving existing affordable housing, were also addressed in this new course offering. 

Professor Lisa Strong’s essay on Karl Bodmer’s anthropological illustrations was published in Faces from the Interior: The North American Portraits of Karl Bodmer (University of Washington Press) in April. The exhibition associated with the text opened at the Metropolitan Museum of Art on April 5th. In February, she co-presented a paper on peer mentoring with Laura Schiavo, Director of the Museum Studies MA program at George Washington University at the College Art Association conference. She gave a presentation on a newly acquired painting by artist Alfred Jacob Miller at the Shelburne Museum in March. This summer, Prof. Strong is teaching a 1- credit course on American Art with Prof. Bourland as part of the Summer Hilltop Immersion Program for rising sophomores.

Professor Michelle C. Wang co-authored an article "Buddhism and Silk: Reassessing a Painted Banner from Medieval Central Asia in The Met" in the Metropolitan Museum Journal, v. 55 (2020). This article studies a 9th-10th century banner painting from the silk routes that was acquired by the Metropolitan Museum in 2007. The museum's Department of Textile Conservation removed the painting from its modern mounting, allowing the authors to examine it from both sides. This brings to a close a collaborative research project that brought Prof. Wang and co-authors to the Metropolitan Museum, British Museum, and Victoria and Albert Museum to study related silk road paintings and textiles.

Featured Alumnus —Deanna Desmond

Deanna with a replica skull of Sue the T-rex during a member event at the Field Museum.

Deanna Desmond (MA '13) grew up in Alexandria, VA and earned her BA in Art from Radford University in 2012. After completing the MA program, she moved to Chicago for six years, where she worked for the Chicago Children’s Museum and the Field Museum. She moved back to Alexandria in 2019 and currently works at the National Gallery of Art as a development associate with the Circle, the museum’s annual giving group. Throughout undergrad and graduate school, Deanna primarily focused on education and public programs until the opportunity arose to work in membership services at the Chicago Children’s Museum. She continued this path at the Field Museum and the National Gallery of Art after realizing she enjoyed creating events and programs for donors and using these opportunities to acquaint herself with the museums’ supporters.

Unfortunately, she didn’t get to experience this for very long in her new role before the pandemic started. Events pivoted to a virtual platform and the Circle team was able to create a webinar series so donors could still feel connected to the National Gallery. This was a great way to preview postponed exhibitions, introduce new acquisitions, and highlight projects by curators that weren’t associated with upcoming exhibitions. During the museum closure, the team was also able to emphasize philanthropic giving to showcase how donors’ generosity benefits all areas of the museum and helps the Gallery reach a wider audience. It has been difficult for her to form relationships with donors in this new virtual world and Deanna looks forward to returning to in person events and being surrounded by art once more.

Featured Alumnus — Elizabeth Wilson Pelly
Elizabeth in the tasting room at Merrie Mill Farm & Vineyard. Photo by Kate Thompson, @bettyclicker.

My name is Elizabeth Wilson Pelly. I grew up in Memphis, TN, went to undergraduate at the University of Virginia and graduate school at Georgetown. The Art & Museum Studies program sent me to London where I met my husband, started a family and stayed for 6 years! Just under 3 years ago we decided to embark on a totally new and different career path for us both: Virginia wine. We moved to Keswick, planted a vineyard and built a tasting room which we just opened a few weeks ago: Merrie Mill Farm & Vineyard. I designed the tasting room (both architecturally and decoratively) to feel like a home. I had seen several lovely tasting rooms in the area in a converted barn style and I wanted to do something that set us apart. To break the mold. I already had several old beautiful farm buildings on my property so instead I built a place that feels like you are walking into someone’s personal home.

I used eclectic furnishings both modern and old, personal artwork and lots of color, pattern and texture to create a maximalist wonderland. There is a lot to look at…I took a lot of inspiration from old wunderkammer and cabinets of curiosity. My art collection here is also eclectic and very personal. There are 4 notable works I will highlight. First is the painting by Sir Oswald Birley of my husband’s great great grandfather. An English portraitist in the early 20th century, Birley painted every monarch since King George VI as well as Winston Churchill and Dwight Eisenhower. Second is a commission by Ilya Zomb. His “pseudo-realistic” style is mesmerizing. Third is an installation of the 150-year old Victorian sea lion hanging from resin balloons. It has to be seen to be
believed. Last is a larger than life bronze sculpture of grapes by Luis Montoya and Leslie Ortiz. The space was a true labor of love and I feel my years studying art and art history played a huge role in the aesthetic.

Alumni News

Caroline Byrd, MA ’17 was promoted from Education Assistant to Education Coordinator at the Frye Art Museum in Seattle last year.

Jeremiah Bradley, MA '20 accepted a position as Membership Assistant at Hillwood Museum and Gardens in February.

Caroline Byrd, MA '17 was promoted to Manager of Tours & Public Programs at the Frye Art Museum in April

Grace Dubuque, MA '15 has been promoted to Assistant Vice President, Senior Account Manager, Valuations at Sotheby's.

Haley Foster, MA '20 is a part time grant writer at Aloa Care Group.

Kendra Greendeer, MA '16 won a place in the prestigious CCL/Mellon Foundation Seminar in Curatorial Practice in July 2020. She is currently writing her dissertation on Native women artists, the transformation of spaces, and decolonial museum practices at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. She is also the Collections Manager for Little Eagle Arts Foundation in Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin.

Sarah Henzlik, MA '20 accepted a contract position as Communications Project Coordinator in Public Affairs at the National Museum of African American History and Culture.

Cecelia Jackson, MA '16 accepted a position as Public Program Coordinator for the National Art School in Sydney, Australia

Inji Kim, MA '20 will be starting a doctoral program in Art History at the University of Washington this fall.

Katie Lee, MA '18 was promoted to Exhibitions and Programs Manager at Transformer Gallery this spring.

Kelly Makee, MA '20 is Director of Private Collections at Coloma River and a private contractor in collections management.

Morgan McKendry, MA '19 co-curated Only If We Wish To as part of a Curatorial Residency Program at New York Artist’s Equity Association. It opens on June 17-July 10 at 245 Broome Street in New York. They are also working as Head of Creators for the app startup, Collective. 

Madeline Nave, MA '20 began her full-time fellowship at the Peabody Essex Museum this summer.

Maire O’Donnell, MA '20 accepted a paid internship at the Delaware State Folk Art Collection.

Luke Perez, MA '17 will start as Curator of Collections at the College Park Aviation Museum at the end of June.

Rebecca Roman, MA '16 was promoted to Registrar and Exhibition Manager at Contemporary Arts Center in Cincinnati in January 2020.

Camila Rondon, MA '17 accepted a position as Gallery Manager at Morton Contemporary in Philadelphia this month. She would love to meet any alumni in the Philadelphia area!

Elisabeth Speal, MA '20 accepted a position as auction cataloger at Quinn’s Auction House.

Candace Tyrrell, MA '19 accepted a position in the Education Department as Groups and Special Programs Reservationist at the Bishop Museum in Honolulu, Hawaii in March. Aloha, Candace!

Hannah Unger, MA '16 is Business Development Associate at Hindman Auctions in Chicago.  

Share your news with us!

Please use the Google Form linked below to update your information or submit professional updates for inclusion in our future Newsletters or social platforms.

If you have any additional content (such as images, links, etc.) to submit, please email it to us at gradamus@georgetown.edu.

Thank you for staying connected!

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